Be Curious, Not Judgmental: Perception is NOT Always the Reality

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Last month at the TLC conference during Jim Knight’s Key Note, he showed a short video clip from the hit Apple TV series titled Ted Lasso.

In a particularly scene from the show, the protagonist Ted (new owner of the team) and the antagonist Rupert—the vindictive former owner of the team—place a significant wager on a game of darts.

Taking his final turn at the board, Ted shares the following leadership lesson,

“Guys have underestimated me my entire life and for years I never understood why – it used to really bother me. Then one day I was driving my little boy to school, and I saw a quote by Walt Whitman, it was painted on the wall there and it said, ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ I like that.” (Ted throws a dart.)


It was the quote by Walt Whitman, “Be curious, not judgmental” that captivated my attention. How often had I passed judgment on someone, or a situation without first finding out the facts? How many times had someone else done the same thing to me?

Ted Lasso went on to say,

“So, I get back in my car and I’m driving to work and all of a sudden it hits me – all them fellas that used to belittle me, not a single one of them was curious. You know, they thought they had everything all figured out, so they judged everything, and they judged everyone. And I realized that their underestimating me – who I was had nothing to do with it. Because if they were curious, they would’ve asked questions. Questions like, ‘Have you played a lot of darts, Ted?’” (Ted throws another dart.)

“To which I would have answered, ‘Yes sir. Every Sunday afternoon at a sports bar with my father from age ten until I was 16 when he passed away.’ Barbecue sauce.” (Ted throws a double bullseye to win the game.)


Think of someone you may have had interaction with, someone who tend to be stay to themselves. Would it not be easier to judge this type of person as strange, or stuck up? The answer is yes. It is always easier to come to a negative conclusion about what we do not understand than to take the time to ask questions.

For example, I remember a time when I experienced a layoff due to funding. It was a tough, but praise the Lord, God opened the door for another position. A few years later I found out that some people (who assumed they knew about the situation) judged the fact that I took another position elsewhere. If they had taken the time to ask the right questions, from the source (moi), I could have explained exactly what occurred. Instead they went on discussing my situation as if they knew what went on.

They passed their own judgment. I know this occurs more often than not, but I am writing about it because going forward, I would like to challenge you to be curious, or say nothing. If you hear people discussing someone else based on assumptions, do not join in, because you and them, may be wrong.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

View the clip below


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